Why we should listen to Admissions Professionals

Yesterday, the CAIS Admissions Professionals Conference wrapped up in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and I have to say, the program was outstanding. This is an important group to our independent school community, as they fill our schools with over 45,000 students annually. So when they come together every two years to learn from the top minds in the profession in North America and to share strategies with their colleagues across the country, I listen. We all should, which is why I am dedicating a blog to their insights.

At the conclusion of one of their breakout sessions, I took some notes. I think some of these comments are gold. Here’s the list:

I wish my Head knew that…

  1. Recruitment is a collaborative effort.
  2. I stress about the numbers just as much, or even more than, you.
  3. Everyone is part of the solution to getting and keeping great kids.
  4. Data collection is increasingly valuable to my success, and I need more expertise on the team to do this well.
  5. Everything can’t be completed yesterday.
  6. You shouldn’t ask for an updated admissions number in the hallway; please take the time to understand the complexities of the process and let me produce a full report for our discussions.
  7. I would like to work with the senior leadership team and Board.
  8. Admissions is the revenue generating aspect of the school and we need the right staffing to be successful. I want to meet to discuss this.
  9. Admissions should be respected as much as advancement.
  10. Admissions and advancement rely heavily on communication, research and analytics.
  11. I still need to be in the trenches – be with the families, conduct the interviews – but I also need to provide the strategy. Can you help me to find this balance? After all, you have a similar challenge in your position.
  12. I am not a marketing expert, and neither are you.
  13. New findings suggest there are 82 points of contact between initial inquiry to enrolment.
  14. I have your back.
  15. I love my school.

I wish my faculty knew that….

  1. Next year’s customers are in our building. We are all responsible for retention. (This one was probably most popular, by the way)
  2. I need to really understand your feedback on new students to help me do a better job. So please complete our surveys and speak with me.
  3. Our priorities everyday can shift according to who walks through the door.
  4. I worry about filling the school with great kids. A lot.
  5. I am important to your continued employment.
  6. I need you to manage the good reputation of the school in our community.
  7. When you talk positively about our students and our school, you have tremendous impact on word of mouth advertising.
  8. It is important to offer excellent customer service.
  9. Admissions is now really recruiting.
  10. Remember, we are all human.

Not sure if I captured all of the comments here (thanks to Kim for trying!) but I do hope some of these resonate with you. We owe it to our admissions offices to support them and collaborate with them through this tremendous shift to strategic recruitment and enrolment management. There is no doubt that it is becoming more complicated to get the attention of the best potential students in the country.

But there is a second and very powerful reason that we need to pay attention to Admissions Professionals.

As our schools are making more funds available for Financial Aid, Admissions Professionals have a huge responsibility to find the best students. And by best, I mean those students who, regardless of income, will make the most of the gift of a CAIS education. We all know students who have been given this opportunity and then have gone on to do amazingly good work. If we all support Admissions Professionals to find even more of those students, we can put our heads on our pillows at night knowing that we are supporting great kids who will go on to change the world.


p.s. Sarah Milligan, all the best as you leave CAIS to do just that.